Fashion Show – Desfile de Moda em Empreita

Photographs are published here with the permission of and acknowledgement to Nuno Santos. His work can be seen on his Facebook page.
On Saturday evening, João went out in the car for the first time since she broke her leg on 27 May 2012. The shorter, lighter cast replaced the huge and heavy plaster one a week ago and we both rejoice in her regaining the freedom to bend her knee.
We went to the second Boliqueime Basket Weave Fashion Show.  Yes, dresses, and other wonderful creations without a specific name, all made out of woven palm leaves.
The whole village attended, by the looks of it.

Sadly, I forgot my camera. My ears, however, are still in recovery.

The theme was a pseudo Phantom of the Opera one (my least favourite musical) with a musical compilation which can only be described as diverse.
The show opened with two disconnected excerpts from The Marriage of Figaro, followed shortly thereafter by someone who was not Frank Sinatra singing “My Way”… Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (not all of it, but enough to get patriotic Germans and ex-Rhodesians of a certain era standing on their feet), … and a Strauss waltz thrown in for good measure. I cannot remember if that was before of after strains of Ave Maria in Latin.  Then came another aria from The Marriage of Figaro followed fairly swiftly by a couple of bars of “God Save the Queen”, the Three Tenors strutting their stuff, then someone trying to sound like José Carreras before his throat cancer saga, then the Three Tenors again, this time with the essential “O Tannenbaum” – “ewige Ruhe”, indeed.
At this point I had to focus my attention on the extraordinary detail of the basket-weave creations, and remark favourably on some very stylish hats of the severe yet classic kind.
It was round about then that I said to João, of one particular model, “That is a very brave bra!” João thought I was being crass, but really, although an incredibly well crafted brassiere enhancing the natural beauty of the model, and very pretty if you like that sort of thing, one minor jiggle, and all would have spilled out as effusively as the Carmina Burana, which was our next auditory treat.
I was still musing silently as to how Old Spice aftershave had managed to retain its original smell despite countless EU and other regulations introduced since its inception when the Master of the High Cs himself launched into Nessun Dorma, during the final flourish of which I broke out into semi-operatic song with outstretched arms. It was perfectly alright; the music was loud enough to conceal any sound I was making.
I do not remember much after that, except to say that there was the usual protracted enactment of a besotted suitor declaring his undying love for the woman dressed in the most spectacular outfit, amidst all the models having already filed out with their outfits which were initially modelled as daywear remarkably transformed by the addition of some glitter, shawls and feather and basket weave headdresses into fabulous nightwear, and hand-held masks for the masked ball spectacular of which we had all unwittingly become a part.
Successful by all accounts, and the invited local and district dignatories were suitably impressed.  I only glanced at the final fireworks display whilst doing the “community thing”, helping to stack the countless empty white plastic chairs as people flocked to inspect the fashion creations at close quarters, or beat a hasty retreat, as the case may be.
Irene Joachim, the inspiration behind the idea and driving force behind the fashion show appeared in this unmodelled – and conservative – creation at the end of the show to resounding applause.
The enormity of the hard work involved by all the weavers within the community, and the energy required to bring the fabulous creations to fruition cannot be overestimated.
Herself a very capable weaver, Irene has done much to elevate the status of basket weaving, a very old tradition in Portugal, and particularly in the Algarve. The humble palm leaf certainly has come a long way from being used to make baskets and saddle bags for donkeys!
João enjoyed the effusive greetings received from folk who had not seen her for a long time. Santa Lucia!!

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